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Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween

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Author Topic: Uncanny Archaeology of Halloween  (Read 2471 times)
Vlad the Impaler
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Posts: 1791

« Reply #90 on: October 31, 2009, 12:07:39 am »

Examples of witchcraft can be found in a remarkable variety of cultures and can be traced back to the very earliest phases of history. The 17th-century Englishman might seek to dispel a "weakness" by boring a hole in a living oak tree and placing his hair cuttings or nail clippings in it; or he might seek to cure himself of some ailment by burying his "water" in an ant's nest or by pouring it on a dung heap. Such primitive efforts to contend with human frailty may seem amusing to us now, but they represent the poignant efforts of a pre-scientific era to lessen real suffering. Indeed, to judge from the concentration of white magic charms in and around London during the 17th century, it is possible that the ailments which occasioned their use had become more frequent. Such an increase in pains and illnesses may have been the result of changes in diet or some other aspect of lifestyle. It is known, for example, that smoking increased significantly during this period, although there is no way of knowing that this habit was linked to specific ills related to witch bottles. Witches of the colonial era kept themselves busy on both sides of the Atlantic, afflicting innocent people with discomforts and diseases. The strong belief in these witches traveled with our ancestors over the sea to America and persisted through the centuries.
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